Against Inclusiveness by James Kalb (Review)

From James Kalb in Against Inclusiveness
Against Inclusiveness by James Kalb

Against Inclusiveness is an important book, addressing what posterity will surely consider one of the most burning issues of our age.

And yet, today, the vast majority of people appear soundly asleep to the fire consuming the foundations of Western civilisation.

I speak, of course, of the ‘politically correct’ movement towards what is commonly called inclusiveness. For whilst the aspiration to be inclusive is rooted in noble aspirations – wishing to end hatred of minorities or the disadvantaged – careful, sober reflection soon reveals that today’s inclusiveness phenomenon works out differently in practice.

This is because so-called inclusiveness hardly eliminates human intolerance, discrimination and hate – those ugly, tragic sides to our fallen condition. Instead, it creates new soil in which these same ugly, fallen tendencies can take root and thrive with renewed vigour.

In other words, a new territory is being established in which fascism can take hold.

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In this book, James Kalb, an American lawyer and Catholic convert, sets out to show why this is so. He cogently argues that we have shifted from a legitimate aspiration to address the worst injustices of discrimination to a utopian quest to render obsolete all normal traditional, cultural and biological differences. Or as Kalb himself puts it:

A movement that began with calls for anti-lynching legislation has ended in concerns about micro-inequities and inappropriately directed laughter.

Clearly, misguided notions of equality are key to this growing peril of our age. As Kalb notes:

Insisting that all beliefs and culture be given equal credit, the result is that none of them can be allowed to affect anything that matters.

Yet, as Kalb points out, distinctions of culture, religion, ethnicity, gender etc, are too fundamental to human existence to be prescinded from. Nor can equality be manufactured by suppressing or denying their existence.

It follows that trying to abolish them leads only to unreal – inhuman! – abstractions where unity means uniformity, where equality means interchangeability and where traditional differences can be acknowledged only if they mean nothing.

In short, what is commonly called diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism entails enforced conformity, homogenisation and standardisation.

But what we witness today is not simply a relatively innocent, albeit misguided, attempt to achieve equality by abolishing differences. Rather, it amounts to something more sinister – a system of  political control that admirably suits the capitalist agenda of the New World Order.

It is a system wherein ‘all modes of social functioning other than markets and bureaucracies’, as Kalb puts it, are insidiously undermined. And:

Expertise, bureaucracy, money and the state become the only serious principles of order and the verbal, credential, well-placed, and rich end up running everything.

Why is this so? Well, as Kalb writes:

Every system needs standards, restrictions and principles of cohesion and doing away with some makes others more prominent. Suppressing natural and traditional distinctions means reliance on artificial ones [Italics mine].

The consequence, he argues, is that:

All significant decisions must be made by someone who can pass himself off as an outside authority applying neutral standards of human rights, economic efficiency, and administrative effectiveness. It is not surprising that people able to present themselves that way support inclusiveness. It destroys informal standards and distinctions and so makes it harder for traditional institutions and informal arrangements to function …

When natural and traditional principles are … rejected as ignorant, irrational and hateful, then money, bureaucracy, and certified expertise become the sole permissible principles of social order.

The result is an enormous transfer of power to experts, verbalisers and managers, leading to dominance by a particular class composed of people whose complimentary functions and strategic role in social institutions give them a common outlook and interests. On the design side, the favoured group includes legal experts, social scientists, and other theoreticians and on the implementation side, lawyers, jurists, journalists, educators, media people, business leaders, and civil servants [Italics mine].

In short, Kalb is arguing that our brave new world is not one in which the old forms of hierarchy – condemned as elitist – have been replaced by freedom and equality, but that rather a new elitist hierarchy is running the show.

And yet we are barely awake to what is happening here. Indeed, the perpetrators are often barely awake themselves, as Kalb point out:

The self-interested nature of elite support for inclusiveness is usually not overt or even conscious. Experts and managers believe in their own way of doing things and view its extension as an obvious good. They see the replacement of traditional arrangements by markets and rational management as [beneficial]. The same process can, of course, be viewed as the destruction of cultural understandings, relationships,  and ways of doing things, and their replacement by formal institutions and procedures that are incomprehensible to those at the bottom and easily controlled by those at the top.

And the result?

Attempting to eliminate … differences suppresses the natural ways people connect and function. The result is a chaotic hodgepodge forced into an artificial order by bureaucracy, propaganda, therapy, and money …

More and more, it seems among us

  • Freedom means comprehensive control of human relations, so we do not oppress each other.
  • Equality means rule by irresponsible and unrepresentative elites who keep us equal by keeping us powerless.
  • Reason means submission of mind and will to the authority of experts.
  • Diversity and inclusiveness mean distinctions cannot be allowed to matter, so they have to be neutered or destroyed.
  • Tolerance means the demonisation of those attached to nonliberal principles as bigots and fundamentalists.

What else can I say? Perhaps this. In this short review, I have stressed one aspect of Kalb’s book that is particularly important to me at this website. That is, again, the replacement of the old traditional hierarchies with the new capitalist hierarchy.

Whilst Kalb does a terrific job at making this crystal clear, I must – in fairness to him – point out that he does a very great deal more than that besides.

There is for example very helpful material about the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment origins of today’s catastrophe. Related to this is a fine discussion of the contributing role of scientific arrogance – or as Kalb has it:

Scientism, which tells us that modern natural science is the whole of knowledge, is the view of knowledge and reality that now makes liberalism impregnable by excluding the discussion of goods and natural patterns.

And there is more – much more! – besides. Even whilst Against Inclusiveness is fairly compact (less than two hundred pages) the book offers a profound roadmap for how we arrived at this ever-increasing peril – and what we must do if we care about the consequences. I recommend those readers who do care to study Kalb’s arguments in-depth.

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2 responses to “Against Inclusiveness by James Kalb (Review)”

  1. WrathOfGnon Avatar

    As a long time fan of Mr Kalb’s writing the book in itself is already pretty much a solid sell, but although many offer analysis to the why and how we have come to sit so placidly underneath that great cosmic fan. I am curious – most of all – on your opinion on the “what we must do” part of the book? Would you care to dwell a little longer on that part?

    Best regards, Wrath

  2. […] also reviewed two of their fine books All Things Made New by Stratford Caldecott and Against Inclusiveness by James Kalb  here – and will be reviewing more […]